One of those responses was a video wherein people from those ‘shithole’ countries talk about them and their accomplishments and their and their families contribution to American society. They speak with passion and with pride and with a clear message of ‘we belong.’ They list the successes they’ve had, the contributions they made and it’s, in its way, moving.
But as a gay, disabled, person I worried about the message behind the message, “We’re good ones!” I found that myself first as a gay man, when I would list the accomplishments of the LGBT communities and would freely list people like James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Oscar Wilde, Christine Jorgenson and Sally Ride. There are many many more. My message, “See these famous LGBT people? See the contributions?” Then I’d list some of my own contributions.” It never worked, all I was doing was saying that we LGBT people don’t naturally belong we have to demonstrate deserving to belong.
Of course, the lesson didn’t stick, when I became disabled, I began, very quickly to do the same thing. I could list all sorts of famous people with disabilities.
Again I was struggling to demonstrate deserving.
Again I felt that my citizenship wasn’t a given.
Again I built a ramp so I could push myself up to equality.
But I am Canadian.
Recent immigrants to Canada are Canadians, they don’t need to go on television and prove themselves worthy of their citizenship.
American immigrants don’t need to display accomplishments before a leader who will never see them as mattering.
What matters is that you are American.
What matters is that you are Canadian.
What matters is that bigotry is always a wrong.
And that your existence is always a right.
I am who I am and I am fully and proudly different. Bigots may lash out. The prejudiced may get in my way. But I am, with all of my difference, defiantly flying the flag of my citizenship.
And I don’t need to prove to anyone why that’s true.